Assume that someone is visiting us - invited to some event, get-together, party, or occasion in our home. They don't know our home and its layout near as well as us - how could they? Some people might be visiting for the first time and others come occasionally. Maybe for those returning to our home, they will see some decorating changes that we have made (new paint on the walls, new furniture or flooring, a new light fixture or lamp, or anything else that wasn't in place the last time they visited). We have long since adapted and gotten used to those changes, but they are experiencing them for the first time.
What happens when our guests close their eyes (so to speak) and walk to the bathroom, go down the stairs to the basement, go outside to the backyard, go to the guest bedroom to stay overnight, or walk to the kitchen to join others or get something to eat or drink? How easy are they going to find their pathways? Are there any challenges they might encounter?
Lighting illuminates the path, but lack of anything encroaching on the walking area is key for safe passage. Effective lighting (bright enough and well-aimed and dispersed for the area it is illuminating) shows us that there is nothing in our way, eliminates shadows, crevices, or other visual distractions (as long as it doesn't create more in the form or glare or odd reflections). It also shows us when there is something to be sidestepped that we could run into or potentially trip over it we hadn't seen it.
Whether it is us or the guests and visitors that come into our homes, safe passage and navigation in and throughout our homes are essential. For our clients, the same is true. We owe it to them to provide such safe passageways and enjoyment for people coming into their homes - including themselves. After we learn how to make our own homes safe, we can take our program to the marketplace to help others.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.